Serving People with Disabilities in Northern Virginia

Meet Our Team

Staff

Trusted Disability Champions

Agents of Change Fellows

On Contract

Staff

Dominique Dunford-Lack

Executive Director

Dominique Dunford-Lack is an advocate for people with disabilities

ECNV is not new to Dunford-Lack. She formerly served as a member and Vice-Chair of ECNV’s Board of Directors from 2020 and has volunteered for ECNV and other disability advocacy and social justice initiatives such as voter engagement since the early 2000s.

Dunford-Lack previously worked for Fannie Mae in Credit Risk and Green Asset Management of multifamily real estate. Before that, she worked in the commercial real estate and insurance industries for more than ten years. She has a master’s degree in Business Administration from the Darden School of Business. She’s also been an entrepreneur in two small business endeavors and was the co-founder of Hearthstone, a grassroots organization committed to forward beautiful universally designed and affordable housing for people with disabilities and seniors.


Andrew Shaw

Program and Training Coordinator

Andrew Shaw is a white male with short brown hair, a beard, and wearing a black shirt. Behind him is a brown brick wall.
Andrew Shaw is a white male with short brown hair, a beard, and wearing a black shirt. Behind him is a brown brick wall.

Andrew Shaw has worked with people with disabilities for more than fifteen years in a variety of capacities, including the private sector, non-profit, and public schools. He attended George Mason University in Fairfax, VA and earned an undergraduate degree in therapeutic Recreation and later, a Graduate Degree in Recreation Administration.

Andrew has lived experience as he has a physical foot disability. Andrew was enrolled in a physical therapy program, however, since he has ADHD, the physical therapy program was not a good fit. His parents enrolled him in a local Hippotherapy program where he learned how to ride a horse and he really enjoyed his therapy sessions. During this time, Andrew’s friends were his fellow students who were also in the program as a result of their disabilities. Many years later as part of a high school service project, Andrew returned to the same organization as a volunteer to “give back” to the organization. This went above and beyond what the school service project required, and this return led to his interest in Recreation Therapy and later becoming a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist.

As a lifelong Virginian, Andrew takes pride in helping his community, especially when it comes to accessibility and transportation related issues. Andrew is pleased to return to the ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia as Program and Training Coordinator to help ECNV in its mission to help people with disabilities live more independently.

Andrew married his long love, Elaine on October third of 2020 in Burke Virginia, and they live together in their home in Springfield, Virginia.


Carlos Marquez

Peer Mentor

Carlos Marquez, (he/him), a hispanic man with curly hair and goatee in front of an office space wearing a red long sleeve shirt.
Carlos Marquez, (he/him), a hispanic man with curly hair and goatee in front of an office space wearing a red long sleeve shirt.

Carlos Marquez was born in the USA but grew up in a small town in El Salvador and at 10 years old he moved back to the Northern Virginia area. He now attends Northern Virginia Community College.

He volunteers for HACAN (Hispanics Against Child Abuse and Neglect) and has been a mentor with HACAN for 8 years, working with children and youth from third through 9th grade on activities such as homework, team building exercises, science projects and experiments. He worked with LEER+ teaching high school kids how to read through Students Training in Advocacy and Responsibility (STAR).

He advocated in Richmond for DREAMers and immigrants to be able to get their driver’s license. In the summer of 2014, he was selected by George Washington University for a young leaders’ program that built on enhanced self-awareness and goal setting skills, by creating an action plan, through personal and team building skills, in collaboration with over 30 professionals from various industries. He also worked on community activities such as Culmore Cleanup Day and Culmore Community Day.

In his spare time, Carlos listens to audiobooks about Star Wars, and authors like Victor E. Frankl, Stephen King, George Orwell. He occasionally goes fishing and plays video games.


Cherie Takemoto

Dir. Disability Justice and Strategic Innovations

She/Her/Hers

Cherie Takemoto, a Japanese American female, smiling with natural (outdoor) background.
Cherie Takemoto, a Japanese American female, smiling with natural (outdoor) background.

Cherie Takemoto, PhD, is the Director of Disability Justice and Strategic Innovation.

Cherie began her disability advocacy journey when her son, Pete, was born 35 years ago. Cherie’s career focus has been in advocacy for oppressed populations, with an emphasis on disability, low income, immigrants, and other marginalized groups. Since 2014, she has directed contracts at New Editions Consulting for the National Clearinghouse of Rehabilitation Training Materials, Interagency Committee on Disability Research, and served as a subject matter expert for a prisoner reentry technical assistance contract. Cherie has a PhD in Education for Diverse Learners from George Mason University. She previously directed Virginia’s Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center.


Doris Ray

Director of Advocacy and Outreach

She/Her/Hers

Doris Ray

As Director of Advocacy and Outreach, Doris Ray manages and coordinates ECNV’s systems change and policy advocacy efforts at local, state and federal levels as well as providing individual advocacy services to ECNV consumers. Her work includes advising consumers about their rights as individuals with disabilities and assisting them to develop effective self-advocacy skills and problem-solving strategies. Over the years, she has developed specific expertise in the areas of affordable, accessible housing, public transportation, benefits counseling, and the disability civil rights. She is a lay advocate and not an attorney and is a trained IL peer counselor.

Doris possesses more than 35 years of professional and volunteer experience in the Disability Rights and Independent Living Movements. As a volunteer member of a coalition of citizens with disabilities in 1980-81, she co-founded ECNV while working for the Institute for Information Studies on Rehabilitation Research Utilization and Dissemination projects of national scope for the U.S. Department of Education.

During ECNV’s first year of operation, Doris served as ECNV’s Information and Resources Coordinator developing its library and information center, conducting community outreach and serving as press liaison. Subsequently, she worked as the Program Services Director for the District of Columbia Center for Independent Living (DCCIL) where, under the mentorship of Donald Abasi Galloway, who helped found the Berkeley Center for Independent Living with Ed Roberts, she helped develop and organize many innovative IL Programs, including a Hispanic community outreach and peer counseling program in Adams-Morgan, a nursing home transition project modeled after the Boston Center for Independent Living (BCIL), and a youth transition curriculum for students at the Sharpe Health School.

A third-generation blind woman, who also has a significant hearing loss, Doris was born and raised in the District of Columbia, moved to San Francisco for two years, and, returning to D.C., moved with her family into Silver Spring, Maryland, where for the first time she was permitted to attend integrated, general education classes with non-disabled students. She graduated from Montgomery Blair High School and from the University of Maryland at College Park with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Speech Communications.

After college, she worked as a corporate librarian for a number of large defense firms. It was during this time that she moved to Fairfax County, Virginia where she has resided since 1973. She has been a community activist and both as a professional and a volunteer she has served on a variety of boards and commissions at the local, regional and state levels, including the Virginia Community Integration Advisory Council (CIAC – i.e., Virginia’s Olmstead Planning Council), the Accessibility Advisory Committee of the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and the Fairfax Area Long Term Care Coordinating Council. She also served on the Fairfax County Commission on Persons with Disabilities (FCPD) and is currently a member of the Arlington County Disability Advisory Commission, where she serves as its liaison to the Arlington County Housing Commission.

Doris is a longtime member of the National Council on Independent Living (NCIL) and is an active member of its Housing and Health Care/Personal Assistance Services Subcommittees. She was the 2016 recipient of the Martha Glennan Advocacy Award for Lifetime Achievement presented by the Fairfax Area Disability Services Board. She also received the NCIL Region III Advocacy Award in 2005, a U.S. Department of Human Services Award for the 1981 International Year of Disabled Persons (IYDP) presented by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, and a special IYDP Community Development Award from the Falls Church Chamber of Commerce.

In her personal time, Doris is an avid ballroom and swing dancer. She loves theatre, music and the performing arts. Her first vocational aspiration was theatre. She is a would-be traveler and has an extensive postcard collection. Most of all she likes meeting and enjoying getting to know people from different backgrounds and experiences.


Emily Kudron

Services Facilitator

She/Her/Hers

Emily Kudron, a Caucasian female, smiling with while textured wall background.
Emily Kudron, a Caucasian female, smiling with while textured wall background.

Emily Kudron moved to Virginia from Phoenix, Arizona in 2021. She graduated with her MBA in 2010 and Bachelor of Science in Human Services in 2009 from the University of Phoenix Ground Campus. She has been in case management/nonprofit work for more than ten years, recently working with the adults with disabilities and the aging populations in Long Term Care Services. She had also been a volunteer with the ALS Association Phoenix Chapter for seven years, where she was a sitting committee member and chair for their annual Walk for ALS event. In her free time, Emily enjoys playing competitive dodgeball, birdwatching, hiking and loves just about every outdoor activity. Originally from Nebraska, she’s a huge Husker football fan. (Go Big Red!) She is looking forward to exploring this part of the country and meeting new people.


Hannah Roberts

Director of Programs

She/Her/Hers

Hannah Roberts
Hannah Roberts, a Filipino American female, is pictured smiling with shoulder-length, wavy black hair and sunglasses at the top of her head.  She is wearing a black top and a thick, turquoise necklace.

Hannah graduated from Loyola College in Maryland (now Loyola University) with a BA in Sociology and a minor in Gender Studies. After attending graduate school for social work at George Mason University, she immediately began working at ECNV in 2008 as a part-time Medicaid Waiver Service Facilitator. She hasn’t left since.

Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen in Philadelphia, interning at a youth program in Baltimore, teaching children for Fairfax County’s School-Aged Child Care (SACC) program, or providing home-based counseling to multicultural families, it is apparent that Hannah has a passion for working with and learning from people from diverse backgrounds.

Born and raised in the DC metropolitan area, she is a proud Northern Virginian and an avid Washington-area sports fan. Hannah enjoys the outdoors, birdwatching, hiking, listening to live music, traveling, cooking, watching movies, and spending time with her family, her husband Elliot, and her two goldendoodle puppies, Barkley and Loki. She is proud to be part of such an eclectic, talented, and passionate ECNV team.


Heather Sailes

INFORMATION AND REFERRAL INTERN

Heather Sailes, a Caucasian female, smiling with a beige blurred background.
Heather Sailes, a Caucasian female, smiling with a beige blurred background.

Heather Sailes has over 16 years of experience in the customer service arena.   She is a new information and referral intern. Heather currently works at a local Home Depot where she has received several awards for customer service. Heather has lived experience with a disability, as she has been totally blind since birth. Due to her lifelong disability, she has always been interested in supporting others, especially those with disabilities. This led to her completing a bachelor’s degree at Longwood University in 2002 after graduating Magna Cum Laude from Northern Virginia Community College.

Heather has participated in pilot programs and continues to study various adaptive technologies for the blind and has served in various volunteer, tutoring, and internship roles throughout her life in support of others. In her free time, she enjoys reading authors such as John Jakes and spending time with her cats Raja and Zaia.

Heather looks forward to continuing to use her life experiences and education to assist those with disabilities and impact their lives in a positive way. She is excited to be a part of the ECNV Team!


Hunter Cardwell

Travel Trainer

He/Him/His

Hunter Cardwell (He/Him/His), is an African-American male with a beard wearing ECNV dark navy-blue t-shirt
Hunter Cardwell (He/Him/His), is an African-American male with a beard wearing ECNV dark navy-blue t-shirt

Hunter is a native Virginian with 25 years of experience in the mental health industry. He is a graduate of North Carolina A&T State University (Aggie Pride!) and is passionate about individuals with disabilities getting the opportunity to live their lives to the fullest, Having the same experiences and opportunities as people without disabilities. He has worked in every aspect of the mental health field from the adjudicated at-risk youth to the geriatric consumer in Northern Virginia Training Center and is looking forward to this new experience at ENCV.


Kevina Brown

Services Facilitator

She/Her/Hers

Kevina Brown, an African-American female, smiling, with a beige background
Picture of Kevina Brown (African American female), smiling, with a beige background.

Recently transitioning from serving the homeless population as an armed community officer, Kevina has been working with adults and children since 2013 in schools, within the community, and in residential settings. The pandemic introduced her to books, Lego creations and mindfulness. Kevina is looking forward to starting this brand-new chapter, by continuing her career of service to others, making connections and doing work that’s rewarding and making a difference in the lives of others!


Lea Kundratic

Community Engagement Specialist

They/Them

Lea Kundratic, a Caucasian femme-shape smiling with a beige background
Lea Kundratic, a Caucasian femme-shape smiling with a beige background

Lea Kundratic, the new Community Engagement Specialist here at the ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia has worked in the disability field for the past 14 years and has a passion for finding innovative ways to support individuals with disabilities in enjoy life to the fullest, most notably with Itineris Inc. in Baltimore, Maryland. They moved to Virginia four years ago.

Lea Kundratic, the new Community Engagement Specialist here at the ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia has worked in the disability field for the past 14 years and has a passion for finding innovative ways to support individuals with disabilities in enjoy life to the fullest, most notably with Itineris Inc. in Baltimore, Maryland. They moved to Virginia four years ago.

Lea is an animal lover with a 3-legged cat named Mars. They write for and participate in live action roleplaying, (basically camping in an imaginary world), in their spare time. Lea is incredibly excited to be joining the ECNV team and embracing new ways to touch more people’s lives in a positive way!

Paul Whitney

INDEPENDENT LIVING SPECIALIST

He/Him

Paul Whitney
Paul Whitney, a Caucasian male with brown hair, a beard, wearing a dark navy blazer and light blue shirt, smiling at the camera.

Paul Whitney graduated from the College of Charleston with a BA in International Studies. He began his career in disability services in 2018 as a roommate in Northern Virginia for a young adult moving out of his parents’ home for the first time. Here, he gained valuable experience in learning what success looks like for young people with disabilities as they navigate transitionary challenges.

This experience led him to serve in a variety of roles for local non-profits. His focus has been on independent living instruction while helping consumers locate community resources that foster integrated living outcomes. Paul takes pride in advocating for a full-life experience for individuals in the disability community. He has served as a program specialist, a community builder, and a community mentor.

In his free time, Paul enjoys playing in a DC-area flag football league. He also enjoys broadening his world view and understanding of cultural diversity through travel.


Pansy Walker

Expansion and Outreach Senior

Pansy Walker
Pansy Walker

Pansy Walker is new to the Northern VA area and is enjoying the experience in the bustling area. Pansy has been working with ECNV since 2019. Before ECNV, Pansy was with Fairfax County Community Services Board as a Support Coordinator and prior to that was a Service Coordinator and interim supervisor with James City County Adult Protective Services in Williamsburg, Virginia. She has 25 years of experience with the disabled and elderly community.

Pansy is a graduate of East Carolina University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Therapeutic Recreation and is a Certified Dementia Practitioner. As a spouse of a retired military soldier (28 years), Pansy has seen a lot of the United States and abroad. Volunteering and supporting military families was a huge priority throughout her time. But her passion, especially with marginalized and elderly communities, has been a major focus of her professional work.

When Pansy is not advocating, you can find her cycling with her husband, visiting vineyards, hanging out with lifelong friends, or knitting in a quiet corner.


Rosalia Fajardo

Director of Multicultural Families

She/Her/Hers

Rosalia Fajardo, a Colombian female, smiling and wearing a black dress
Rosalia Fajardo, a Colombian female, smiling and wearing a black dress

Rosalia Fajardo is a Colombian lawyer whose purpose is to ensure that all children will have access to a great education and successful life through family, school, community, and business partnerships. Dr. Fajardo is a nationally recognized community leader and speaker on disability rights for children with disabilities. For the last 20 years she has been advocating tirelessly to ensure that the Latino families and diverse populations have equal access to special education and higher education for youth with disabilities. She is also deeply involved in social justice, immigration, healthcare, and dedicated to helping Latino students to succeed in their dreams to achieve college education. Dr. Fajardo has provided technical assistance to more than 1000 Latina women to create their own business including mothers whose children are receiving special education. Prior to founding the Multicultural Families, she served as Outreach Director of the Parent Educational Advocacy Training Center and the Virginia Parent Information Center. She has also served as a special adviser to the Assistant Secretary of the Office of Special Education at the U.S. Department of Education.

She is a proud mother of Margarita Maria, a small business entrepreneur. For her work she has received numerous awards and special recognitions among including the 2009 SCAN award, the Lifetime achievement award presented by El Poder de Ser Mujer in 2019, COVID 19 Hero presented by El Tiempo Latino Newspaper, and the prestigious 2021 Disability Impact Award from the Virginia Disability Law Center.

She is excited to be a part of the ECNV team.


Ruchika Lalwani

Director of Administration

Ruchika Lalwani

Ruchika was born, married in and earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in India. In 1995, she moved to the United States and to Virginia, where she began working at Bank of America as well as conducting polling place surveys for ECNV. In 2006, ECNV Executive Director, Michael Cooper and Director of Administration David Burds were impressed with her and hired her for a position at ECNV. She was thankful for the opportunity to join ECNV and to be an advocate for people with disabilities.

Ruchika is currently the Director of Administration in which she works closely with the executive director and performs other administrative tasks.

She has a son and a daughter who were avid volunteers at the center, and you could say that as a single parent, ECNV was and still is like family to her. Her children used to go to the Arlington Fair, Clarendon Fair, and the NCIL Conference and Spinal Cord Injury Network Picnic.

Throughout her time at ECNV, she has learned a lot and touched the lives of many people with disabilities while wearing various hats. She has enjoyed going to Richmond to advocate as well as going to the Capitol Hill with her colleagues to speak with senators and legislators on the importance of rights for people with disabilities.

Ruchika has also worked on Personal Assistant (PA) Registries and connected PAs with consumers and people who come from different states for work and pleasure so they have worry free trips. She also founded the social groups, TGIF & ENDependents. These two groups help the disability community feel welcome and build long lasting friendships. Her first priority was and still is the consumers. Ruchika has been at ECNV for more than 16 years and continues to fight for the rights of people with disabilities through their program, LEAD ON!


Salifu Kamara

Independent Living Specialist

Salifu Kamara, an African-American male, dressed in a black suit and white shirt against a white, bright office background.
Salifu Kamara, an African-American male, dressed in a black suit and white shirt against a white, bright office background.

Salifu Kamara, also known as Sal, recently joined the ECNV family as an Independent Living Specialist. Originally from Sierra Leone in West Africa, he is a single parent and graduate from American University (AU) with a BA degree in international affairs, with a focus on economic development from the School of International Affairs.

He has extensive experience working with diverse populations including persons with disabilities and has a disability himself. At a young age, he was diagnosed with polio which led to his current disability and he uses crutches to walk.

Sal has helped war victims in his country gain housing, find employment and educational needs. He has also worked with Health Services for children with special needs as an outreach specialist. Additionally, Sal has served as a transitional mentor in Washington, DC, at Housing and Community Services of Northern Virginia, Inc. (HCSN), and other organizations in the DMV area. Finally, he has worked on housing, helping his community get rent paid through the Virginia Rent Relief Program (RRP) program. Sal has also helped mitigate community challenges and needs of Northern Virginia customers by serving the Medicaid population.

He is more than excited to continue engaging and serving people with dignity and respect as needed to achieve their goals.


Selvin Garcia

Director of Operations

He/Him/His

Selvin Garcia, a Hispanic male with a goatee and glasses, wearing a black jacket.
Selvin Garcia, a Hispanic male with a goatee and glasses, wearing a black jacket.

As Director of Operations, Selvin works closely with ECNV’s Executive Director to oversee and manage the center’s day-to-day operations. His responsibilities include ensuring that facilities are adequate, fully accessible and well maintained; equipment and technology is up-to-date and operational; that standard operating policies and procedures are developed and maintained. He is also ECNV’s liaison with our landlord and negotiates and manages contracts with ECNV vendors and consultants. He also directs and manages ECNV’s travel training contract with the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority. Simply put, he is a jack-of-all-trades!

Born and raised in Guatemala, Selvin literally started a new chapter in his life when he moved to the United States in 1999. He had to learn English and began taking courses at a technical college with the aim of becoming an automotive technician. It was during this period that he started volunteering at ECNV as an administrative assistant and was later hired as a full-time ECNV employee.

Selvin has been with ECNV for over 20 years, having served in various positions throughout the organization. For several years, he served as a conference logistics coordinator for a contract that ECNV had with the U.S. Department of Transportation Office for Civil Rights. In that capacity, he assisted in planning and providing staff support for regional conferences for local transit officials and community stakeholders on the requirements of Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) as they applied to fixed route and ADA paratransit.

Later Selvin became a travel trainer providing instruction to ECNV consumers with a variety of disabilities on how to independently use Metro bus and rail as an alternative to taking MetroAccess trips. After several years working as a travel trainer, Selvin was promoted to Director of Travel Training Program and Mobility. In addition to supervising the travel training program, Selvin also developed and managed ECNV’s Durable Medical Equipment loan and donation closet, a program that provides needed DME, such as used mobility devices and aids to low- and extremely low income individuals with disabilities in our service area.

In the past four years, Selvin has assumed more administrative and management roles and was instrumental in planning and implementing two separate relocations of ECNV’s offices.

Now a U.S. citizen, Selvin is married and has a young daughter. Fluent in both Español and English, he looks forward to helping individuals with disabilities increase their independence and increasing outreach to immigrants with disabilities as they start a new chapter in their lives in a new country.


Tracee Garner

Peer Counselor

Tracee Garner
Trace Garner

Tracee L. Garner holds a BS in Communications from ODU and loves assisting people with disabilities to access programs, become strong self-advocates, and live a life of independence. She’s been with ECNV for 13 years as a Peer Counselor and Outreach Coordinator, working primarily to serve all of Northern Virginia residents with a focus on the counties of Loudoun and Fairfax. Tracee enjoys speaking and writing and is the resident guru for topics around Social Security Benefits, transit and so much more.


Trusted Disability Champions

Angela Ramirez

Angela Ramirez
Angela Ramirez, (she,her,hers) a Hispanic girl with fair skin, dark brown hair and purple highlights wearing a black tank top.

Angela Ramirez is currently attending the University of Connecticut (UConn), double majoring in English and Human Rights. She has been interested in human rights work from a young age. While attending Yorktown High School, she was an active member in human rights-themed clubs, the President of the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA), a member of the student advisory board, and spoke at a school board meeting following hate crimes in 2016 on behalf of LGBTQIA+, immigrants, and people of color.

At UConn, she worked actively on behalf of two political prisoners in Bahrain through a course on Approaches to Human Rights Advocacy; one of the political prisoners was released earlier this year. She is a member of the UConn chapter of Circle K International, a service-based club. Angela believes in community service and has volunteered with an art therapist at Children’s National Hospital and worked the polls in Arlington; she feeds the homeless on the weekends. She worked as a nanny and continues to pet sit cats, dogs, and fish over the last four years. Angela enjoys reading books, watching movies, listening to music, and going on walks in her free time. She is excited to apply her human rights experience to disability rights.


Janeek Prince

Janeek Prince, an African-American girl wearing glasses, smiling at the camera.
Janeek Prince, an African-American girl wearing glasses, smiling at the camera.

Janeek Prince is ECNV’s first paid Trusted Disability Champion. She has been working hard to connect other organizations to ECNV as part of our Pop-up Vaccine and COVID information efforts. ECNV is pleased to be working with Janeek on these efforts.

Janeek has been living independently in the City of Alexandria since 2018. She enjoys doing acrylic art, playing bocce ball, going to the movies with family and friends, and playing board games. She currently works for Sunrise Community of Virginia as a Supported Employee Office Assistant. As ECNV’s first paid Disability Champion, she looks forward to being part of the growing Trusted Disability Network to help people with disabilities in the City of Alexandria and beyond.

We greatly appreciate Janeek’s willingness to spread the word and open new doors for our covid-19 vaccination initiatives. After the Alexandria City Health Department asked for outreach assistance at a large apartment complex, Janeek figured out who to call and invited the management to join our vaccination efforts. Management agreed and now we are working with Alexandria Health Department and African Communities Together to publicize and host a future pop-up. In the short time since Janeek began, we are already seeing the impact of her work.


Jennifer Alves

Jennifer Alves, (she/her), olive green eyes, brown hair, smiling, wearing a white hat, having a good time with family at Three Sisters Mountains in Colorado.
Jennifer Alves, (she/her), olive green eyes, brown hair, smiling, wearing a white hat, having a good time with family at Three Sisters Mountains in Colorado.

Meet Jennifer Alves, our newest Trusted Disability Justice Champion who will assist our Loudoun friends with spreading the word and signing folks up for our next Pop-Up Vaccination Event, which will be held next month in partnership with the Arc of Loudoun. No stranger to the disability community, Jennifer has been an advocate for more than 20 years working in Loudoun County for disability rights and now in Colorado where she recently moved to continue her journey and be closer to her family.

As a Trusted Disability Champion, Jenn will be working hard to connect our sister organizations, the general public, people with disabilities, their families and caregivers so that everyone knows about our upcoming COVID vaccination efforts. ECNV is pleased to welcome Jenn. Just as the 2nd boosters are becoming available, her energy and extensive connections with Loudoun’s disability community bring new energy to our efforts. Jennifer enjoys her art, making things, writing, and spending time with her close family and friends.


Jeremy Smith

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith, (he/him), a Caucasian man glasses a white polo shirt, sitting in an burgundy colored office.

Jeremy Smith is a native of Northern Virginia. He has a BA in Communication Studies from Gallaudet University. During his college career, Jeremy served as the vice president and president of a student disability organization and worked with the Office of Diversity and Equity for Students. Upon graduation, he interned with the National Association of the Deaf (NAD).

Jeremy served as a board member for four years at the Northern Virginia Deaf and Hard of Hearing Resource Center (NVRC). In 2020, he participated in Partners in Policy Making (PIP), a Virginia Board for People with Disabilities (VBPD) initiative to learn how to advocate for people with disabilities. He is highly motivated to help people with disabilities improve their lives. His favorite hobbies are watching professional wrestling, video games, watching many sports, and being outdoors enjoying nature with his family and friends.


Margarita Baquero

Margarita Baquero
Margarita Baquero, (she/her), long brown hair, smiling and wearing a black jacket and blue pants, sitting on a stone near the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C.

Margarita Baquero has been working hard as a Trusted Disability Champion at our Vaccination and COVID events. Margarita was born in Colombia and grew up in Arlington, Virginia. She enjoys being around animals, taking care of kids, watching Netflix, going to the gym, and spending time with family and friends. She currently helps parents of children with disabilities. Margarita looks forward to learning more as a Disability Trusted Champion.


Agents of Change Fellows

D’Arcee Charington Neal

Black and white photo of D'Arcee, an African American with a beard and black rimmed glasses in a white t-shirt smiling.
Black and white photo of D’Arcee, an African American with a beard and black rimmed glasses in a white t-shirt smiling.

D’Arcee Charington Neal is an award-winning professional storyteller, and third year doctoral candidate at The Ohio State University in English and Disability Studies, focusing on the intersections of black digital media and disability erasure within Afrofuturism. With a double Masters in Creative Writing and Rhetorical Composition, through the lens of audio narratology, he works to tell stories of the Afrophantasmic, or black disabled people who exist as phantoms within the community as both a power and a problem; critically analyzing digital blackface and ableism across popular culture. He is a recipient of the 2017 Tony Coelho NBC/Universal Digital Media Scholarship and winner of Best English Graduate Research at Ohio State University for 2020. However, when not theorizing about black techno-agency, playing video games, or crying over Grey’s Anatomy, he believes that the future can and should be both, accessible, and in Wakanda, forever.


Emma Budway

Emma Budway, (she/her), brown eyes, brown hair, wearing a navy blue sweater and floral blouse, smiling and standing on the campus of The University of Virginia.
Emma Budway, (she/her), brown eyes, brown hair, wearing a navy blue sweater and floral blouse, smiling and standing on the campus of The University of Virginia.

Emma Budway is a 25-year-old unreliably speaking autistic who is passionate about advocating for equity and social justice issues. She is committed to making the world more accepting of the neurodiverse and advocating for inclusion of the non-speaking community. Emma believes that everyone should have access to opportunities for education, community, housing and employment that are foundational for a meaningful life. She encourages autistic self-advocates to push for fuller access and inclusion. Emma is featured in The Reason I Jump, an award-winning documentary about autism around the world. A recent focus of her experiential writings centers around her living a self-determined life in an inclusive, affordable and diverse community.

Emma is proud of her participation with seminars at George Washington University and the University of Virginia where she is able to share the lived experience of autism with undergraduate and graduate students. This fall will be her 6th semester.


Joshua Wilson

He/Him

Josh Wilson, a Caucasian white male, smiling and wear a black and red har and gray sweater.
Josh Wilson, a Caucasian white male, smiling and wear a black and red har and gray sweater.

Joshua Wilson is a 48-year-old man who has Cerebral Palsy, and lives in Richmond, Virginia. Over the past 20 years Josh has been an advocate to make change for people with disabilities, especially in Virginia. He has spoken at the Virginia general Assembly several times on topics related to consumer-directed care, assistive technology, and Medicaid Waiver waiting lists. Information Technology (IT) is Josh’s passion; he has worked at Virginia Commonwealth University and as a volunteer at several non-profits doing IT, and he has a degree from J. Sargeant Reynolds College in the field. Josh describes bureaucracy as his most frustrating foe and his turtles and the beach as the two things that bring him the most peace. Josh lives in his own apartment and wants to make sure all people with disabilities have the opportunity to live on their own or with any people they choose.


Marcos Castillo

He/Him/His

Marcos Castillo
Marcos, a Chicano man with brown hair, beard, and mustache in a green baseball cap and white t-shirt with headphones.

Disability Justice, Policy and Community Living Subject Matter Expert (DJPC/SME)

Marcos Castillo is a Chicano Disability Rights Advocate who grew up on the border in Yuma, Arizona. Growing up on the border he has always been keenly aware of the disparities in BIPOC communities but never more so than when he became disabled 20 years ago at the age of 18. For the next three years he hopped around Arizona’s nursing homes until finally moving out to live independently in the community. Shortly thereafter he and his girlfriend and three kids moved in together and he took on the role of stay-at-home father, one of the greatest honors of his life.

Marcos has always been active in the community, but his advocacy work really began when he started advocating for himself. His family had been missing out on many of the things we take for granted simply for lack of transportation, so he decided to begin looking for services and began fundraising. That eventually led to being offered a position as a board member of The Arizona Spinal Cord Injury Association, which led to becoming a peer mentor of the Christopher Reeves Foundation and a seat on the planning committee for the Latino Disability Summit held by Ability 360 and Chicanos Por La Causa. Voting is also crucial to the success of his communities so years ago he became a Deputy Registrar for Maricopa County. He’s done radio, TV, print interviews and has sat on panels and spoken at conventions about subjects spanning sexuality & intimacy, being a parent with a disability as well as others. Advocating for both his disability community and the Latino community in English and Spanish are his life’s work. Currently he sits on the advisory board of Honest Arizona working to ensure health and community-based services for those who need it.

Marcos is a passionate advocate and defender of his communities but prior to his injury was studying culinary arts and loves feeding those he loves dearly. He is excited and ready to utilize his experiences and talents to make a difference in the lives of people with disabilities with the ECNV team.


Teresa L. Champion

Teresa Champion
Teresa Champion, (she/her), brown eyes, light brown hair, smiling, wearing earrings, necklace and a blue blouse against a plain wall background.

Teresa L. Champion is an attorney and member of the bar in both Kentucky and Washington State. She received her J.D. degree from the University of Louisville. For 10 years she was employed as the General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer for an international aviation brokering corporation.

Teresa was one of the founders in 2009 of the nonprofit Virginia Autism Project (VAP) which along with Autism Speaks, led a multiyear, grassroots, statewide coalition of families to push for Autism Insurance Reform in Virginia. This effort culminated in the 2011 signing of a bill by the then Governor of Virginia, Robert McDonnell to mandate insurance coverage for the treatment of a diagnosis of autism up to 6 years of age. Later, the group worked to amend the law to mandate insurance coverage through age 10. In 2019, the autism community worked together to lift the age cap entirely out of the Virginia law and mandated insurance coverage for a diagnosis of autism for state-regulated plans.

In 2017, Teresa volunteered to work with a state-wide group to pass a bill signed by Governor Terry McAuliffe which established an advisory council for a chronic health condition called Pediatric Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Disorders Associated with Streptococcal Infections (PANDAS) and the associated diagnosis of Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS). Teresa has been appointed to serve on this advisory council.

VAP spearheaded the Designated Support Person law for Virginia which allows a parent to stay with an adult child in the hospital and partnered with other groups on:

  • Revising Electronic Visit Verification (EVV) requirements under Medicaid for live-in attendants.
  • Pushing criminal justice reform for inclusion of ID/DD evidence in the guilt phase of the judicial process.
  • Funding for private special education day schools following JLARC’s report.
  • In 2022, amending the Virginia Code’s definition of Autism to align with the DSM.
  • In 2022, fighting against the recriminalization of student behavior in schools.

A long-time civic and community activist, Teresa has been involved in the disability community in Washington and Virginia since 1996 and has been appointed to serve on community-wide and statewide boards in both Washington and Virginia and today serves on the Board of VAP.


Contractors

Elaine Roxane Shaw

Communications and Publications Specialist

Elaine R. Shaw
Elaine R. Shaw, (she/her/hers) is a Filipino-American female with shoulder length brown hair and brown eyes, wearing a black short-sleeve top, against a white background.

Elaine Roxane Shaw joined ECNV in mid-April, taking on the role of Communications and Publications Specialist. She studied Arts and Visual Technology (now known as School of Art) at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA. Elaine graduated in 2009 and has been working professionally as a graphic designer for more than 10 years.

She has a learning disability in math and considers herself a visual learner advising patience for people around her.

As ECNV’s Communications and Publications Specialist, Elaine manages the monthly newsletter and other social media. She is passionate and creative at heart.


Mike Ritter

Website

Mike is a caucasian male with short dark hair.

Mike Ritter lives in Fairfax with his wife and son. Paralyzed in high school, he experiences challenges as a wheelchair user. Mike spent his early career working with adults with developmental disabilities and teaching in elementary schools. He is active in his church and serves on a couple of boards.

Professionally, Mike builds and runs websites for local businesses and organizations. He is serving ECNV through our transition to a new web platform. He is committed to the objectives of the organization.